Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 28, 2015

Robotech screen rights bought by Sony

Sony is going to make a movie based on Robotech. Oh boy.

I am more curious to see how they screw it up than anything. Robotech is the most misunderstood TV series that I know especially from its fans.

Robotech came out in 1985. It is responsible for popularizing anime in America.

The producer, Carl Macek, was bringing the Japanese anime series Macross over to America. However, it did not have enough episodes to fill the US requirement of 85 episodes for a TV show. Two other animes were added in. It wasn’t just three shows. What was done was much re-writing and the three shows became three generations. Macek explained what he had changed in the commentary in the Protoculture versions. The formatting had to change since Japanese TV used a different formatting. The nude shower scenes had to be cut because they would not fly on daytime TV cartoon showtime.

What became ‘Robotech’, this fusion of three shows into one, became more than the sum of its parts. I can watch it and actually jot down all the times they quote Shakespeare in it. More was re-written than what people think as I highly doubt Japanese anime quotes Shakespeare that often.

The way how people don’t understand it is thinking it is a ‘butchered’ or ‘cut and paste’ version of the original shows. But when you look at the original shows, they are TERRIBLE. They are just dreadful. Just listen to the music difference alone. In the Japanese versions, the only ‘music’ you would get would be some military drums. In Robotech, you would get something like this.

The three generations are the three Robotech Wars (a sci-fi version of world wars I guess). It is hard to determine who actually wins these wars because so many people die. Robotech is an absolute bloodbath. Yet, against the backdrop of all this carnage, they show the characters falling in love, getting married, and having kids. The main characters of Generation Two were the children of side characters from Generation One.  Ditto for Generation Three. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV series really go through such a spread of time of three generations like Robotech did. There might be some anime out there that did so, but Robotech feels more than an ensemble of characters but an ensemble of periods. It would be like if you read history, you would know World War 2 is connected to the events of World War 1 in some way. Most people have the first generation as their favorite. Some have the third generation. I’m one of the few that prefers the second generation. The second war was the most politicized where you had idiot politicians screwing up the war.

If you remember the battleship from Starcraft 1 that went ‘battlecruiser operational’ in a Russian accent, that is an homage to Robotech. I remember when Starcraft 1 came out that people immediately recognized Gloval as the Battlecruiser captain.

The fact that Sony is calling it a marriage of Western and Eastern ideas might show some promise that they get it, but I remain unconvinced.

After re-releasing it to DVD, Harmony Gold ‘remastered it’ and make it a complete mess. The audio was redone, and it sounded terrible. When the veritechs ‘morph’, they actually sound like transformers. Who thought this was a good idea? Worst of all, they edited the intro to only show just footage from that generation in it which tells me whoever did this did not understand Robtech.

The ‘sequel’ of Shadow Chronicles was written by a fan who didn’t understand Robotech either. He was clearly inspired by Babylon 5. Why would Shadow-like aliens suddenly arrive out of nowhere after the Third Generation? Dumbass writing.

I hear the comics are good. I can say the books are excellent and hold up well. They were written by two men who spent most of their life doing radio so it reads very well. The authors also had Macek’s scripts. The book series of Robotech is about 21 books I think. Six for Generation 1, three for Generation 2, three for Generation 3, five books for The Sentinels (Robotech II), and one book for the End of the Circle (Robotech III). They also had a couple books in between Generation 1 and 2 and 3 that filled in some story gaps.

If you watch Robtech today, you’ll wonder what the fuss is about. While the show came out in 1985, the animation quality is from 1980 or earlier. Even in Japan, they ‘re-made’ Macross and so because the animation had not aged well. Robotech, like many other shows, had deadlines and all so some of the episodes (especially the dream ones) make no sense and Minmei sings too damn much. Why did they not use her other songs? Maybe they weren’t done in time. Each episode as only a half hour long. Minus the intro and ending sequences, there wasn’t much time to do stuff. Enjoyment of Robotech depends on one willing to let the writing quality do its thing. The music is also fun.

Yeah, Sony is going to screw this movie up. How can they do a movie on Robotech? It’s three generations. Are they thinking of a trilogy? It makes no sense. The more people try to separate Robotech by each generation, the more they reveal they don’t get it. Robotech is about the interplay about those generations. Blatantly, the themes are the sins of parents falling onto their children (which is the last lines of The Tempest, Shakespeare’s last play), the actual might and power of music, and the entire arc revolves around the power of the flower. Every generation, there are two people who play out Romeo and Juliet (which might distress you if you watched the show when 14 years old). Robotech II and III go more into that, but it’s overall interesting.

Anyway, here is the original intro to Robotech. I love it how the generations are mixed up in it.

Above: No, the woman’s rifle does not blow up the alien spaceship. Two different scenes cut together.

The ending credits also has a similar reaction.

Above: The Japanese animation has the military battles move with a sort of grace and smoothness that cannot be duplicated using computer graphics. Or has technology come to the point where it can be done? I doubt it.

Now that I think about, Thundercats had an incredible introduction. Its power was in how graceful the animation was which is was unknown at the time in America. The NES and other japanese gaming also had a similar effect to the West.


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